If You Don’t Laugh, You’ll Cry. The Ludicrous Lake Logjam Lingers On.

We were supposed to be in our house by now. In fact, we were supposed to be there in April, which has presented some unique lodging challenges. Campsites need to be reserved several months in advance if you hope to have a place to plant your RV. No worries, right? We like to cover our bases, so anticipating some possibility of construction delay, we had spots reserved through May 19th. We were foolishly optimistic, poor planners.

Well, here it is, June 3rd, and because we could not find other accommodations, we are stationed at a campground built in 1972 that is sort of like a seasonal trailer park. People reserve sites year round, build porches and erect Tiki Bars around their trailers. Most are tastefully designed, and the park is well maintained, but, well, at the end of the day it’s still a trailer park.

Our site is not level, we do not have full hookups, and the dump station is right next door. Ahh, nothing like the aroma of raw sewage wafting over your picnic table.

It’s less than ideal but I am grateful that we at least have a place to stay. We do not have a sewer hook up, and cannot easily dump our tanks. As a result, we are forced to use the bath house. It’s clean and has clearly been upgraded sine 1972 (perhaps in the 1990’s?) but it is as cold as a meat locker in that place! I cannot shower in there without my goosebumps having goosebumps. Is it too much to ask to take a warm shower every once in a while? We joined a gym that is 15 miles away because they advertised a fully stocked gym with cardio and strength training equipment, free weights, classes, and SHOWERS. Here’s the glitch. There are two showers. One is in the men’s room. One is in the ladies room. If I shower, none of the female clientele can pee. I’m new. I can’t afford to make enemies, so I rush through the process. No blow dryer. No cleanly shaven legs. I am probably sporting a unibrow since grooming has become an exercise in futility.

Why am I doing this????

Ever since I was a kid, we went camping, and many of our outdoor adventures included lake life. I was quickly captivated by the lure of the lake. I loved jumping off a dock, paddling a canoe, and fishing with my dad. The lake has always been my happy place. Retiring to my paradise seemed natural. I never expected so many bumps in the road. This drive to lakefront living is giving me whiplash.

It’s currently looking like we will be stuck in this crazy situation for another month. If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. Sometimes there are genuine tears. I try to see the humor in all of this, but it’s been a difficult ordeal. I am SO ready to get settled in.

Stay tuned…

You Can Learn a Lot from a Mermaid

Not to brag, but my granddaughter made the perfect Ariel in her elementary school production of The Little Mermaid. She looked the part, knew all of her lines, and delivered them with conviction. She was 100% believable as she swam against the tide, made sacrifices, and fell in love with Prince Eric. Furthermore, her dancing and singing were truly captivating and her performance was breathtaking. It caused me to reflect and draw some parallels with my current situation.

What would I give if I could live
Out of these waters?
What would I pay to spend a day
Warm on the sand?

Alan Menken and Howard Ashman – The Little Mermaid/Part of that World

What would I give if I could live out of this RV? What would I pay to spend a day in my own home? You can pretty much bet I would sell my voice in order to have a house that is not designed to roll down the road.

We’ve hit that milestone. We have now been living in the rear of a Ford F-550 for over 18 months. That’s right... a Year and Half with a minimal wardrobe, no washer and dryer, and a dog that sheds like an Angora rabbit in the middle of August. Eighteen months of waking up and staring at a refrigerator that is not actually, per se, in the bedroom, but may as well be. It’s been 1-1/2 years of paper plates, plasticware, and floors that will not stay clean for longer than an hour.

It’s time so swim to the surface and get into that house.

Still much to be done, but we now have siding, paint, and cabinets. The work on the deck is scheduled to begin today. Minimal flooring has been installed. Each day the idea of actual occupancy gets a bit more real. We are not yet there but we are headed towards the finish line. We are watching the pot, waiting for it to boil.

Isn’t looking backwards funny? So much of this voyage has been anxiety-provoking, and yet, there have been so many moments of awe and beauty. I kind of wonder if I will miss living in the belly of Bertha after we settle in a bit.

Look at this stuff
Isn’t it neat?
Wouldn’t you think my collection’s complete?
Wouldn’t think i’m the girl,
The girl who has everything?

I thought there was no end to our homelessness. At times I had my doubts about emerging alive. I felt destined to live in a truck until the end of time, but here I am, looking forward to starting a new chapter. Now that we are closing in on an actual closing date, I can look back at the magical moments, the twinkles in time that I will always treasure.

Nostalgic feelings are fleeting comforts. It is time to plant myself long enough to grow some roots, and to become a productive member of a new community. Soon. In short order. Before ere long.

Stay tuned…

“Baseball Been Berry, Berry Good To Me”

Thank God Springtime has arrived. I’ve had entirely enough of short, chilly days during which I wring my hands in despair over the house building process. At times it feels that the hands of the clock are spinning in a counter-clockwise direction. So, I embrace the gradually elongating days; days that herald the beginning of baseball season. I have been a fan of the National Pastime since I was a kid. Since I desperately need to pass time during the home construction debacle, I am delighted to be able to turn to the ball diamond.

As SNL’s Garrett Morris exclaimed through fictional ballplayer Chico Escuela, “Baseball been berry, berry good to me.” When I was a kid, I followed the Pittsburgh Pirates, and quickly added the Baltimore Orioles as my favorite American League team when I moved to Charm City to attend college. Way back in those days, both teams were regular contenders. In recent years (decades) it has been painful to back the Buc’s and the O’s. Let’s just say I haven’t had a horse in the race for far too long.

But wait! Have you seen the MLB standings? As of May 10, 2023, the Orioles are in a strong second place in the AL East with a .639 winning percentage, and the Pirates are in 1st place in the National League Central. Yes, it’s too early to pop the champagne cork, but a gal can dream.

We recently attended a daytime O’s game against the Red Sox. The seats were great, the crowd was enthusiastic, the smell of Old Bay was in the air, the Skipjack Pilsner was cold, and we put the game in the win column.

The best baseball, however, can be found on the little league field. It is here that players are developed. It is on these shortened fields that kids learn the nuances of the game. They learn “the situation.” It is here that youngsters learn to pick off a runner, to catch a long, fly ball, and to “double ’em up.” What’s more, the price of admission is reasonable. Show up with your own chair, your own popcorn and peanuts, and enjoy watching the team’s skill level grow as the season progresses.

It is between these chalk lines that kids learn the importance of teamwork, the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat. These are life lessons that reach far beyond the sand lot.

If I’m going to homeless, I like to do it from behind home plate.

Speaking of homeless, still no concrete closing date in sight. We did, however, manage to get the boat in the water. The boat has a house. We do not. Something seems a little inside-out with this scenario.

Stay tuned…

April is the Cruelest Month

In T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, April is referred to as the cruelest month, which, to the poet was a statement filled with deep, emotional complexity. To me, it’s a bit simpler. April enters stage right, dressed in sunshine and pastel blossoms, and begins to fool the audience into thinking it’s Spring. Okay, I will grant you that flirtatious April, throws you a few days of warmth and promise, but that promise is perjury! Most days are cold, with relentless breezes that bring the wind chill back to winter.

If you don’t believe me, ask the parent of any little-leaguer. These poor souls (myself included) nearly succumbed to hypothermia during a recent double-header. Note the hats, hoods, winter coats and blankets.

April is not just cruel, she is a heartless tyrant.

We are temporarily parked near our old stomping grounds. We are taking care of all of the necessary evils like dental visits, yearly physicals, optometry appointments, haircuts, and filing taxes. Taxes! That’s even more proof that April is the cruelest month.

Still, I found time to escape the callousness of early Spring by layering up in winter clothes and taking a long walk with a lifelong friend along the rail trail in New Freedom, PA. Time spent with Melissa is treasured. If we kept up a brisk pace we could battle the crisp air, but the true warmth came from savoring a friendship that has endured through many decades.

The best thing about being planted in one spot for a month is that we have ample time to spend with some pretty remarkable kids. My heart overflows as it embraces every second spent with these rapidly growing “tweens”.

I digress. I am not yet done ranting about the brutality of April. High winds brought a tree branch crashing down through a cover on the roof of the RV. Thanks to a roll of Gorilla Tape, we are staying dry until a replacement cover can be installed. It was a smallish limb, but the noise it made when it crashed onto the roof was terrifying. We got lucky with the roof incident, but remain unlucky with house delays. Good news is that we now have insulation, and the drywall is being installed. Bad news is that the closing has slipped ANOTHER week (or more).

Why does it seem that time flies by when watching my grandkids, but it stands perfectly still when I look towards the completion of the lake house? Yet, another mystery to ponder.

So, the light remains at the end of the tunnel and although it feels that we are not moving forward, we are, at a snail’s pace, but still moving in the right direction.

In the meantime, we have 11 more days of baseball and softball to keep us involved and entertained before we head to Virginia for a brief stint, where we can keep a more watchful eye on progress made in the construction process.

Stay tuned….

Heading for the Hills

We said goodbye to Coastal Carolina and began our homeward trek. Homeward is a bit of a misnomer, since we remain homeless, but, at least, we were pointed in the direction of more familiar territory. The Spanish moss faded away and was replaced by a variety of budding hardwoods, most of which were spewing fuzzy, green pollen. Through itchy eyes and sporadic sneezing we managed to do some hiking at North Carolina and Virginia State Parks. The flat, seaside terrain was behind us, and the elevation changes had us headed for the hills.

When I was a kid, we had a very consistent bedtime routine. When it was time to go upstairs to brush our teeth and say our prayers, my dad would announce that it was time to “go up the wooden hill.”

The wooden hill, naturally, was that long flight of stairs that we ascended, heading for our bedrooms, and towards a good night’s sleep before the dawn of a new day.

Well, wouldn’t you know that it is the ‘wooden hill’ that is currently causing our home delay angst? You can’t make this stuff up. We have walls, and a roof, and plumbing and some wiring, but we can’t have the required inspection work done because we have no stairs between the basement and the main level. The stair subcontractor is the new antagonist in this never ending tale of new home woes. It’s a good thing that I am inclined towards kindness and forgiveness during the Easter season, otherwise I might punch him in the nose.

Regardless of the staircase dilemma, some progress is being made. A small part of me is actually beginning to believe that I may not be living in a truck until the end of time. That glimmer of hope is making it even harder to exercise patience. Waiting for a firm date for the inspection is like waiting for your favorite pie to cool. I don’t want to wait for my ship to come in; I want to grab a dinghy and motor out to it.

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” —

Leo Tolstoy

Thankfully we have lots of welcome distractions over the next month or so. We are back in the mid-Atlantic, where we were able to celebrate Easter with family and friends. With April’s promise of renewed life surrounding us, the apprehension of the setback situation eased. Spending time with the grand-nieces and grand-nephews was a powerful elixir for combatting the unpredictability of what lies ahead.

In the upcoming weeks, we have lots of softball, and travel-team baseball to enjoy. Watching our grandkids hone their skills, while gaining a true understanding of their sport is priceless. We have opportunity to chauffeur them to their music lessons, and to see the progress they have made with their respective instruments. We can have sleep-overs at the campground and play loads of games, both outdoors and indoors. We also have a school musical coming up, in which our granddaughter will play the leading role. We are beyond proud and unbelievably blessed.

… And so, we will enjoy our stay at Ramblin’ Pines campground, enjoying the warm, spring weather and relishing the time spend with people we love.

“And sure enough even waiting will end…if you can just wait long enough.”

William Faulkner

Stay tuned…

Healing, Hope and Who Wants a Jellyfish Sandwich?

When we last touched base, our long-suffering, long-term camper (me) was in the throes of despair over wintery weather, ill health, and ceaseless setbacks with the home building plan. I was not in a good place…

In Return of the King, J.R.R. Tolkien states, “Oft hope is born when all is forlorn.” He’s right. I was more than forlorn. I was despondent, but after a visit to an urgent care, a 20 degree rise in ambient temperature, and a little good news on the construction front, I am feeling a strange, almost buoyant sensation. Could it be hope? Is it possible that there is a genuine glimmer at the end of this long, dark tunnel?

The Ocean has restorative power. The rhythm of the tide, the gentle breezes and the salt air create a tranquility that washes over you, encourages introspection, and empowers you to move forward. with an attitude of gratitude.

With a renewed spirit, and improved health, I ventured out to have a little fun.

Myrtle Beach is all about pancake houses, quaint inlet bars, shopping, entertainment venues, breweries and GOLF. If you are a serious golfer, there are roughly 60 golf courses in the immediate area. If you are a woefully weak duffer, like I am, there are still lots of options for dragging out those clubs. You can try your hand at Top Golf, putter around an executive course, or enjoy a myriad of mini-golf options.

Myrtle Beach State Park is an absolute gem. The beachfront is pristine, the hiking trails are thick with native vegetation and the campsites are large. Because March is not yet tourist season, the oceanfront is uncrowded with the exception of a few surfers, fishermen, and children who do not mind plunging, like polar bears, into the surf.

There are, however, a large number of jellyfish that wash up on the beach every morning. I’m a little surprised that these gelatinous blobs are appearing this early in the year. I thought they were warm water creatures. There is much I do not know about Medusozoa, other than that they are creepy and would not taste good with peanut butter.

I have had an epiphany. It is truly springtime. The calendar says so, and I am beginning to believe that this crazy dream of lakefront living will actually come true. If I can make it through a mid-Atlantic April, which is a notoriously vicious month, I will be on the homestretch! Since we will soon be back to Maryland and on the ballfields with our grandkids, the next couple of months should fly by. And then…. here we come, Lake Anna…

Off to North Carolina in the morning.

Stay tuned….

Time for a Tantrum

There are a few things that make me grumpy. I do not like cold. I do not like feeling unwell. I do not like learning of delays in our home building saga. It’s been the perfect trifecta since arriving in South Carolina.

Flip flops have been replaced by boots. Ball caps have been replaced by woolen ski hats. Gloves have made a reappearance. Grouchy and grumbling, I convinced my surly self to layer-up, take a walk, and channel some appreciation for my surroundings. My attempts to seek positivity were short-lived as my mantra soon became “this cold weather crap is for the birds.”

Cold makes me cantankerous, but something else was amiss. As I trudged along I realized that I was tired, lagging behind and limping a bit. Wait! Could I be getting sick? I have a super-strong constitution. I have a remarkable immune system. Covid was afraid of me. There was simply no way that I could be feeling lousy, on the road, this far away from home.

Oh. Never mind. I don’t have a home. Like these turtles, I am carrying my house on my back.

Even these tortoise had to hunch together to say warm.

I’m freezing. I’m ill. I’m beginning to relate to these reptiles.

Thank goodness that I have friends and family that are in the medical profession. I was able to relay my symptoms via phone call and was soon loading up on antibiotics.

Did I mention that it was St. Patrick’s Day? With these meds onboard it was going to be a dry celebration for me.

Still, I did not want to spoil all of the fun associated with Gaelic gaiety. I may not have had the luck of the Irish but my husband, at least, deserved a dram of Guinness.

“May the wind always be at your back…” It’s part of an Irish prayer. The wind was at our back, our front, our sides, and in our faces. We lasted about an hour before the extremely cold wind blew us back to Bertha.

Furthermore, we have NOT received the expected notification that framing has been completed on our house. If I don’t soon get some good news, I can going to throw myself on the ground and start thrashing around like a tortured toddler

Rant over. Probably not. Okay, the current rant is temporarily over.

I may be crestfallen but we continue to don our winter wear and find a way to enjoy what we can.

There are certain signs of Spring. I will heal. The sun will eventually warm the earth. The [expletive deleted] builder will finish the home construction. Patience, grasshopper….

And as my granddaughter reminded me, when we began this journey over 16 months ago: Slow and Steady Wins The Race.

Critters Defeat Campers

The swampy seacoast of Georgia is filled with critters like gators and snakes. It is also swarming with biting gnats, and crawling with deer and raccoon. “Look at this wonderful array of wildlife”, I said, as we settled into our site. “Let’s buy some flowers and put them in pots around the campsite. It will feel more like home”. So we did.

We were admiring our pretty set-up when it became crystal clear that we were only temporary tenants, the gnats were the landlords. We already had a screen-room, but it was not very tightly sealed, so we made an executive decision. It was time for a new, pop-up screen room that would provide better protection. It was easy to assemble and we were feeling smug about defeating those pesky proprietors, until they demonstrated that no screen had a small enough weave to stop them. Soon we had a brand-spanking, new shelter that was full of flying insects that were determined to feed on us. Gnats win.

Bugs aside, it was still really pretty, and summerlike outside. We would simply have to admire the new, potted flowers from inside the RV. No defeatist attitude here. This is when we discovered that we have been vagabonds for far too long. Somewhere in our travels we had forgotten that deer would love our new flowers even more that we did. It was a veritable salad bar for those four-legged foragers. We now have five hand-painted flower pots filled with stalks. Deer win.

This may not be a surprising revelation, but Gypsy is spoiled. She has had nothing but breed-and-age-specific Royal Canin food (at over $100/bag) since the day she came to live with us. We lug that food around in the back of the pick-up truck since it is too bulky to put inside the RV. Helpful Hint: It’s always best to completely close the truck-bed cover. Did you know that raccoons have a keen sense of smell, and that they are quite fond of expensive dog kibble? Raccoons win.

Still unwilling to raise the white flag of defeat, we headed away from wildlife and into the city of Savannah. It is such a walkable urban area. The squares and streets are park-like. The monuments and aging architecture provide seemingly endless living history lessons. The shopping and restaurant districts are absolutely bustling.

I love immersing myself in bygone eras and imagining what life was like for our forebearers. We visited Wormsloe, a colonial estate established in 1736 by a compatriot of James Oglethorpe.

We also spent at day at Fort McAllister, which had been attacked by ironclad ships during the civil war, but survived these bombardments because it was an earthen-work fort, rather than a masonry structure. The fort eventually fell, as it was the last stop on General Sherman’s March to the Sea.

The critters on Savage Island had a resounding 3-0 victory over the campers, but we are looking for a rematch at our next stop in Myrtle Beach.

Stay tuned…

Georgia is Just Peachy!

I’ve spent the best part of the past few years discovering America. We’ve seen many extraordinary places and have made an art of exploring our own backyard. Each area of our vast country has bragging rights. This is an impressive land we live in.

Maybe it’s because we have had absolutely stellar weather for most of February, maybe it’s because I love the salty, coastal breezes, maybe it’s because I love history and mystery shrouded in oak trees that are dripping with Spanish moss; whatever the reason, I have fallen in love with Georgia. It’s just peachy.

It’s been sunny and summerlike ever since our arrival in the Empire State of the South. The windows are open, the screen tent is up, the evenings are longer, and our Fitbits are logging in more steps. Flowers are emerging from their buds, Gopher Tortoise are peeking out of their burrows and birdsong fills the air. I am in my happy place.

Okay, weeds are also blooming, and everything we own is covered in a fuzzy green layer of pollen, but it’s nothing a little Claritin won’t fix.

It is also the time of year when prescribed burns are done to rid the forested areas of pine needles, dried leaves and brush, fighting fire with fire. I’m baffled about why the smoldering areas do not create a hazard, but I’m sure there is a science to it.

… And should an errant ember find it’s way out of the cypress forest, there is plenty of water around to dampen it.

The rivers and the swamps and the marshes and the inlets are breathtaking. The coastal plains and the Golden Isles are simply teeming with wildlife. I should mention that they are also currently teeming with gnats and “no-see-‘ums” and yes, the mosquitoes are making an early appearance. Still, nothing a whole lot of DEET and a little bit if hydrocortisone won’t fix.

There is also something inexorably romantic about the abundance of live oak trees that are cloaked in Spanish moss. They are hauntingly handsome, creating a backdrop of beauty that surrounds and speaks to you.

This area is also awash with historical places to visit. I intend to see as many as I can with the time that is allotted before we begin our trek northward.

Stay tuned…


Breaking the Law…. always a rebel

The ‘dog days’ of summer are not generally associated with the month of February. Those steamy, sultry days are more typically found in August. I cannot express how grateful I am that we have been blessed with a prolonged period of early, summer-like weather. Yes, flip-flops in February! My kind of winter. RV life is far more tolerable when the sun warms the air and invites you to spend significantly more time in the great outdoors.

For our Gypsy, every day is a dog day. Well, she is a dog, so it stands to reason, but she’s also a remarkably adaptable furry friend. She travels without incident, and is ALWAYS up for a walk. Her enthusiastic energy is boundless. Do they make dog-collar fit-bits? If so, she needs one.

Our lovable labrador is a total type-A tail-wagger. She does everything with great gusto. Mud wrestling is her favorite sport. She fears nothing, backs away from nothing, and is always the leader of the pack, even when she is substantially outsized.

After an amazing stay at Topsail Preserve, along Florida’s 30A, we arrived in the Coastal Plains of Georgia. If my family wasn’t so far from South Georgia, I could easily make this area my home.

Every day is a dog day in Georgia! GO DAWGS!

“Every dog must have his day.” – Jonathan Swift

Since this blog has already gone to the dogs, I should mention that our rough and tumble, Princess Pooch just celebrated her 2nd birthday. She celebrated her day by enjoying a fried egg atop her kibble. She was gifted with such delicacies as beef cheek and peanut butter bones.

She also has a new tough toy, a moose named Moose, that is bound to have a very short life expectancy.

This update has unexpectedly turned into a Dog Blog. Much more about why Georgia-is-Just-Peachy to come.

Stay tuned…